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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chamar subversion of high-caste ideals and practices

Road to Pakistan The Life and Times of Mohammad Ali Jinnah
By B. R. Nanda

This is a biography of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the story of the creation of Pakistan. At a time of much interest and concern about Pakistan in the international community, this volume provides a historical context which helps in an understanding of the present. It traces the development of the Muslim identity on the Indian subcontinent and follows Jinnah as he rode the wave of Muslim communalism to ultimate success in the demand for the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan at independence from British rule.
Jinnah’s successful espousal of the demand for Pakistan was a remarkable feat. In achieving this success, Jinnah traversed a long distance from the beliefs with which he entered public life. He started out a nationalist, as a protégé of senior Congress leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji. However, the introduction of separate electorates for Muslims after the Minto–Morley reforms in 1909 led him to change his position in order to appeal to his changed constituency. Even so, it was not until 1937 that he unabashedly played the religious card. He now began to see the Congress and the Hindus as his adversaries rather than the British. Through these twists and turns of posture, the one constant factor was his underlying ambition to remain in a position of leadership and eminence.
This volume traces the zigzag course of Jinnah’s political life and the establishment of Pakistan within the broader framework of the Indian freedom struggle. Indeed the main players in this struggle with three protagonists were the Indian National Congress and the British rulers. This work demonstrates how this bigger struggle opened the door for Muslim separatism led by Jinnah. It was through this opening, aided by British moves to use the Muslim League as a foil to the Congress, that Jinnah very astutely led his party to success in its demand for the creation of Pakistan. ISBN: 9780415483209 Published February 23 2010 by Routledge India.

Manuela Ciotti

Firmly situated within the analytics of the political economy of a north Indian province, this book explores self-fashioning in pursuit of the modern amongst low-caste Chamars. Challenging existing accounts of national modernity in the non-West, the book argues that subaltern classes shape their own ideas about modernity by taking and rejecting from models of other classes within the same national context. While displacing the West — in its colonial and non-colonial manifestations — as the immanent comparative focus, the book puts forward a unique framework for the analysis of subaltern modernity. This builds on the entanglements between two main trajectories, both of which are viewed as the outcome of the generative impetus of modernisation in India: the first consists of the Chamar appropriation of socio-cultural distinctions forged by 19th-century Indian middle classes in their encounter with colonial modernity; the second features the Chamar subversion of high-caste ideals and practices as a result of low-caste politics initiated during the 20th century. The author contends that these conflicting trends give rise to a temporal antinomy within the Chamar politics of self-making, caught up between compulsions of a past modern and of a contemporary one. The eclectic outcome is termed as ‘retro-modernity’. While the book signals a politics of becoming whose dynamics had previously been overlooked by scholars, it simultaneously opens up novel avenues for the understanding of non-elite modern life-forms in postcolonial settings.

About the Author: Manuela Ciotti is a social anthropologist with a PhD from the London School of Economics. She is currently Research Associate at the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh. She has published several articles in leading journals on topics ranging from education, labour ethnohistory, gender and class transformation, and women’s political activism. 
Drawing on research she carried out during the tenure of a Nuffield Foundation New Career Development Fellowship, Ciotti is completing her second monograph entitled Political Agency and Gender in India. An edited volume entitled Femininities and Masculinities in Indian Politics (forthcoming) develops the different aspects of the gender and politics nexus. Ciotti’s focus on South Asian Studies is intertwined with her interests in anthropological epistemologies and the politics of location and representation; converging on these, a monograph provisionally entitled 'Producing Knowledge in Late Modernity: Lessons from India' is under preparation.

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